This Blog Everyday Asperger’s by Samantha Craft is retired. Her company website is myspectrumsuite.com Thank you for the community and support you have offered through the years.
In 2004, I was called to write. I dedicated myself to write every day for a year. I only missed one day and completed a 250-page memoir. I often wrote 4 to 10 hours a day. I spent the next years editing because my dyslexia and dysgraphia make it very challenging for me to detect errors. I knew nothing of writing. It was pretty substandard material at the start. I didn’t even know when to capitalize the word ‘mom’ or how to use a semi-colon. It took me three years of writing and editing to find ‘my voice.’
I taught myself to write by studying other books, relentlessly. I took notes and would write pages and pages of words I found (in other books) on notepads. In 2012, I started Everyday Asperger’s (blog) and wrote almost every day for a year. I then continued posting blog posts several times a month, for another two years. Each Everyday Asperger’s blog post took a long time to edit. Then, after it was online, I would reread the words for an hour (at least) trying to find all the small mistakes that I couldn’t find the first time. (I didn’t mind; it was a type of stimming for me.) At the time of writing the blog, I also reedited some of the original (year 2004) childhood stories.
Recently, after 3.5 years of writing over 1,300 pages online, I began the process for my book: Everyday Aspergers (EA). I tore through 1,200 single-spaced pages of this blog, some of which were my childhood stories, picking and choosing, and then piecing the posts together like a puzzle. This took a solid two months of working almost daily. From there, I refined and refined, trimming most posts to 1/3 original size; some of those posts, if not most, were originally two to three pages long. Next I found little parts that got cut but were still gold nuggets and found places to sprinkle them in.
After that I polished and polished and polished, and began to edit. Soon the final editing took place from December to today. Most weeks I spent the equivalent of a full-time job editing. I also employed the help of a professional editing team. To date, the manuscript for Everyday Aspergers has gone through four editing rounds, in which I read the words (at first 717 pages, then 615 pages, then 417 pages) from start to end. Each page was reedited each time! I’d spend marathon days, up to 12 hours straight editing. Some of the childhood stories have been edited and polished at minimum 15 hours per page! Counting the years before, I’d say the book itself has well over 5,000 hours of editing alone. That doesn’t count any of my writing time. It’s a HUGE accomplishment. It’s not just something I threw together. It has a huge heart and huge effort behind my endeavor.
I cannot wait for the book to be in my hands. More so, I cannot wait for those who wish to have the book to hold the story in their hands! I’ve been waiting since 2004, when I had a dream.
I updated the Checklist for Females with Aspergers here
I have missed you. Everyday Aspergers (EA), the book, is coming along quite well. It’s in the final draft stages and I hope it will be ready for your eyes by this early-May. (And the cover is awesome!!!)
As some of you know, I have spent countless hours editing . . . I recently had a huge aha moment: being dyslexic I ought never ever try to edit! But alas, it’s a bit too late for that. I have ‘literarily’ (notice the non-risqué double entendre?) edited my book more hours than I can calculate. And the book started off at 1,200 pages! Don’t worry, I have a professional editor. Good thing because I still have trouble with sneaky homophones, like verses and versus. Who ever invented the English language sucks.
What’s been challenging is grammar rules—there are lots and lots of rules, and not everyone is in agreement. In addition, commas hurt my eyes, if they are not placed in the correct place; correct as in where it seems I ought to sprinkle a little dash based on the rhythm in my head; not ‘correct’ as in rules. So that’s been an interesting predicament. Also, hyphenated words fall into a similar spot as commas: the inconsistent box. And it doesn’t help that I went through a happy-to-hyphenate stage and a put-a-comma-everywhere phase. I am still recovering.
The other, (likely Aspie-related), recent challenge has been chopping up my previous blog posts,(there’s over 500), rearranging, refining, omitting, rewording, embellishing and realizing that this process is not LYING or being dishonest in the slightest degree.
And the most laughable moment to date, regarding this book journey, (at least according to my autistic partner), is when I said, “I don’t think my book is autistic enough,” with weeping puppy-dog eyes, and he adamantly responded (after asking if I was PMSing), “If you are not autistic then I am not autistic.” So that set things straight. He then added, in his arrogant Aspie-genuis tone, “Plus, you’re like the poster child for Aspergers.” Still processing that one.
Publishing a book is kind of like childbirth—had I known the pain, I doubt I’d ever have started; however, once I see my baby, it will be worth every agonizing moment. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
I do have to say that my psychological metamorphosis has been fascinating: One moment confident, next moment terrified. One day never wanting any human to read my words ever again, next day, over sharing my works. It’s kind of like the publishing process has intensified my autistic extremes! Go me!
Oh, and I’ve had ample opportunity to sit back and listen to LV (little voice inside my head) burst aloud fret after fret. I think she’s grown a small pink cape monogrammed with ‘insecurity.’ First off, I apologize for the short phase (about 1.5 months) in which we (me, LV and Sir Brain) we’re never going to have ANYTHING to do with AUTISM ever again! This was largely due to the ebb and flow of opinionated jerks online (something I swiftly swam away from), my tendency to hyper focus almost to the tipping point of my sanity, the way my life drips and oozes of autism (partner, son, ME, job, writing, reading, social media platforms, blogs, book, research, friends, so forth …), and my forever search for balance (psychological and hormonal!).
For a short stretch of time, I figured I’d be a hermit in the back room, behind my garage, and just obsessively paint, never to resurface, except out of loyalty for the occasional chocolate bar left outside my door. After some retreat and reflection, I realize autism is in my bones—and most definitely in my genes—so not really a smart plan to try to escape it, entirely. Still, I am attempting to not let my special interest consume me. But alas, I likely will always have my all or nothing tendencies, despite my best efforts.
With all that said, my prolific abilities for writing and off beat wit seem to have resurfaced. This following two years of gradual rehabilitation from a weeklong hospital stay, in which the trauma to my system greatly affected my executive functioning ability; I mean I couldn’t even open an envelope for months. Took me three months to be able to sit up for more than an hour. There was some major healing that had to take place. But thankfully, I feel about 95% back to normal. Except now, my premenopausal brain-frying hot flashes and hormonal extremes–seem to be affecting my dyslexia and dysgraphia. Kind of like someone turned up the omitting words, mixing up words and letters, and forgetting thoughts dial to about the umpteenth power. So that’s been fun. Good timing, don’t you think?
Sam the Ham
(Now I want to list words that rhyme with ‘ham.’ Yep, I’m back!)
I have been searching within about where to take my next steps, in regards to my calling and passion for service. I believe spirit planted in my heart a connection that will lead me through.
Just yesterday, I was able to slip out of a depression brought on by PMDD, a condition I believe to be common with women on the autistic spectrum, and a condition that quadrupled my pain and quadrupled my thoughts of unworthiness.
I am recognizing that the first twenty-days, following my cycle, I have energy, renewed hope, an abundance of radiating light, and confidence in my journey. Interestingly, when sorting through my blog posts, I noticed a definite trend. Through my words, I can readily see how I become sad following a cycle of hope.
It is very surreal for me to step back and become the observer of self, to see what has transpired in the last thirteen months, and to reflect in the place and places I stood. The experience teaches me that indeed I am continually transitioning and continue to be increased in my faith and vocation, despite the set backs and the challenges, all which derive from my own self (ego, self-form, lack in faith.)
In recognizing this PMDD and how it affects my moods, and thusly my ability to remain steadfast in hope and courage, I am understanding I would benefit from putting support in place. As the last ten days of the cycle following ovulation, (I follow the exact cycle of the full moon.), I seep day-by-day into a greater degree of pain and disheartenment. I have found, though, through review, if I am surrounded by family and/or friends, I am pulled out of isolation, and therefore the depression is lifted and I am filled with love.
In seeing this, it makes sense for me to put into place a support system, in which my friends and family understand what is happening to me at a biological level. I am working on creating this space for me, of love and nourishment of soul, in the next weeks, while I am in a “good” place, not yet exhausted or immobile from the various “syndromes” I am healing from.
This has brought me much clarity, the recognition of the PMDD and how in effect I am not governed by my mind and/or spirit when the hormones shift rapidly. Knowing I am a part of the percent who feels an actual sensitivity to my hormones makes complete sense. And to a lesser degree has, much like the discovering of Aspergers, led me to several ah!-ha! moments, in which I review the past in flash backs and recognize that though I struggled repeatedly for answers to my pain and suffering, and dedicated my efforts to “controlling” my moods and pain through faith, that in fact, some things were beyond my control.
I see this as a direct parallel in how I searched for decades for answers about why I felt different from the majority (Aspergers), and wearily came up with few answers. In the past, increasingly, as I dedicated myself to finding solutions, increasingly I was disappointed, and sometimes shunned and criticized. My strength in self faltered in stability, as my hormones shifted, and I can see this in photographs of myself where I am bloated, discouraged, and have a sadness in my eyes that radiates lost and abandoned.
I now understand that why for some thirty years I have struggled monthly with a feeling of being lost to myself. To a degree I have been. For during these ten days, I develop a skewered view of my physical body: I believe that I am extremely fat, ugly, disproportionately put together wrong, and unworthy of recognition. I essentially hide from the world and the fear of judgment, becoming immobile and unable to leave my house, even to step into the yard. This confusion of my appearance is a trait of PMDD, and possibly a result of a variant enzyme in my body. This makes sense.
However, for so long, with both Aspergers and my mood “swings,” I blamed myself and my inability to rise and conquer my own mind and weeping spirit. How funny to think I was my worst judge and worst enemy, believing if I only tried harder and hard enough I would create the person I wished to be.
In truth it was the process of surrender and exposure of self that led to the underlying waves of causation, e.g., admitting weakness and loss of control led to answers. This recent last week of self-discovery was patched with confusion and doubt. Yet, I am thankful I gave up long enough to find the answers. Too, this past week, was filled with fear, which I am certain affected my pain-threshold and outlook.
The fear arose from illusion: that of death, illness, and surprise. I have carried with me, since a small child, the inevitable feeling that death will surprise me. Perhaps this dread surfaced from the dreams of prophecy I had in my youth wherein I predicted the death of my beloved pets. Perhaps the fear was constructed from the experience of continual change and loss of people in my life. Maybe, the fear took root when my kindergarten teacher died. Or just maybe the distrust and feelings of doom are genetically or spiritually a part of who I am at this moment.
Regardless, fear of death is a constant battle, an aspect of my life I am releasing continually. I have learned to recognize this fear before both feet are through my threshold. I acknowledge this existence of up most illusion.
“Fear,” I whisper.
“Fear,” I say.
And then I retreat back, a gentler part of self, and watch with much release as the messages spin and play, some forgotten record moved again by some forgotten will. In this way I survive. In this way I live.
Recently, in observing this fear all week, revved-up by the revelation of an inherent physical “flaw,”—that of PMDD—I was able to again and again surrender to my higher power and wrap my heart around the concept of submission. I feared, certainly, as the illusion came knocking again and again. But something remarkable has happened in the last months. In essence, I am so highly aware of fear’s calling that at first knock I am already removed, letting only a part of self dance and the rest set about to learn, as if placed in classroom by something beyond chance.
This is a level of transition from where I was before; and though I tremble and weep inside, experiencing moments of extreme bouts of forsaken soul, the rest of me, a greater mass, retreats into the echoes of truth, beckoning the light at the end of the bleakness to move forward and touch me before I step to touch light.
And this is glorious. For as I am in the mold of shadows, I also dwell in the light of goodness. And I know, with this flicker of hope, I will be alright. I am learning, slowly and steadily, to hold onto the glimmer, the slimness of glory, and learning in time, with the passing of days, I will return.
Is this still frightening, this purging of fear?
Yes, extremely so.
But am I growing and reaping benefit?
Yes, I am.
In all ways I am the embers in the fire pierced in pain, releasing to the cold black of coal, and then being rectified, removed from the flame ash, and brought back to the earth of goodness. And this is what I hold onto: The ability to continually rise from the ashes.
In saying all of this, I will release my fear, as I have been taught in vision that beyond fear is where I find love’s adobe.
When I abide in love, I am free. And so I tell you, my listener, what I fear.
I fear that I am creating a book and that in this book will be a history that is all of me, and that is to me frightening in varying degrees.
First is the judgment that will be set upon me, as writer, as woman, but beyond that as spirit. But this I can conquer, this fear is limiting and unsubstantial in its potency. For I know I am love and light, as I know you are.
The second fear is found in the process of building a foundation of support. I will be led, and have been led, in direction in regards to this journey; a journey which I now hesitate to call mine, as so many of you reading are affectively part of this journey now. In being led, I know I will hit walls and ditches and even waterfalls; I will tumble and fall; I am human and shall not be perfect. And in this fear, too, I am ready to breathe. I can breathe here, in this illusion of failure and wrong turns, possible deceit, and survive. I see this as only shadows and a necessary part of my path, much faced already and much climbed. So, yes, this fear I can release, too.
Thirdly, and perhaps the biggest fear, is found in the potentiality of being separated from others.
I am fearful I will non-intentionally create a path that others interpret as rigid, narrow, and religious. And that is not my intention. I welcome all walks of faith and walks of life. I have been shown in vision the discrepancies of spirit filtered through the falsehood of judgment and pride. I have been shown that my path is never the right path and never the right way. That my perception and my very comfort and haven of safety, have been self-created based on circumstance and what I choose to see and make my foundation and truth. In essence my truth can never be anyone else’s truth unless the all of us are one.
And in this way, I hesitate, in the way of a one wanting to be a helper to all and not a select group. I want to be a gift to all who need refuge and retreat, and not a one who would by appearance, and appearance alone, be an illusion of someone who segregates and isolates.
Thusly, in connecting any of my works to a title or an establishment, I also at the same time connect myself to a “label,” and to the judgment of others based on that label.
And it is in this judgment my fear lives. Here in the heart of me who weeps knowing that by choosing anything at anytime, others are automatically left out by their own doing.
But left out of what? Left out of what? Is what I ask.
In truth, I imagine, they are actually left out of nothing, beyond my own journey.
And so is this my fear: The fear of being separated by my perceived actions?
Is this fear not once again the same fear that is the irrigation and fertilization system of Aspergers?
The fear of being left out by another from his or her perceived judgment of my action. That of his energy shifting, his thoughts, his opinion, his view of me, in fact the existence of me (as I only exist in interpretation), being altered without my control.
Yes. This is the deepest fear. The loss of control.
In reviewing this with audience, I see that in stepping out and making choice in the direction for my book, I am at the same time creating a space for my deepest fear of separation based on others’ views. And thusly, I recognize that this, too, this journey to create my story into book form, like my genetic makeup, like my view of the world, like the way I communicate–literally crying and shaking in my boots—is yet another mirror exposing fear bred from the beast of longing to control.
And today, on this day of resurrection, I release, I let go of this part of self, who so longs to unite and join, but still hovers under the illusion and want of control.
I let go of this self who wishes to dislodge judgment and rigidness from her own being, yet still formulates and categorizes in hopes of solution.
I release this frightened child who thinks that like before the rest of the world will rebel against her way of existence. And I give to myself the gift of removal of control.
With deep breath and settling awareness, I set about to create a place for my mission that is not predicated by fear, not paved by intention beyond love; a path that circumvents all thoughts of separation.
In doing this, in proclaiming my truth, I again dismiss fear to the outer barriers, where he waits to teach me more. And I celebrate his fire, his flame, his ability to mold me again and again into the ashes of discovery.
I know not who I be anymore than another. I know nothing more than my brother. I know only that I am called, and in so doing will no longer hide in the shadows of fear.
Because I know by faith I walk, and in this way of the child with passion, I continue forward to meet the next imagined stranger who is already friend.
Call me crazy (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase in a sentence.), but I have a hard time reading a book or article about how to best associate with (e.g,. marry, date) people with Aspergers, when the authors writing the material don’t have Aspergers. I don’t know exactly how to describe this irkish-sensation…
however the scenario of a typical (non-aspie) “professional” announcing to the world how to help someone with Aspergers seems akin to an alien beaming down from a purple planet and telling me how to be more human.
Yes, I purposely did a spin on my example, as in most people’s eyes the “professional” would be the human and the aspie would be the purple-planet alien. (One-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people-eater entering mind.) But indeed, that is precisely my point; so much is written about how to help the person afflicted with Aspergers or how to get along with the person with Aspergers, but what about the articles and books that explain to the person with Aspergers how to get along with the non-aspie people?
Why is it that I, and my fellow non-aliens, are continually dissected in our ways, set apart, and then sorted by our inherent flaws, so the others can learn to live with us? I mean is this being done for other people with “special needs,” too. Or is it just us Aspies that need to come attached with a handbook?
If we changed the scenario, just a tiny bit, and turned this into cultural differences; I don’t know let’s say an entire book written by a Caucasian person about what it is like to be African American and how to adapt behaviors and implement strategies to get along with the African American, do you think maybe there might be an issue? Hmmmm.
Or how about if a Doctor of….let’s see…. How about someone who studies squids! Let’s call him Squidman. Well Squidman all of the sudden finds out there is a bunch of money to be made in writing a book about Redwood Trees (as they recently became 2% of the population of all trees!), and so seeing he has a doctorate degree in squids and all, he sets about to study up a bit on the mighty redwood. And soon Dr. Squidman becomes the leading expert on redwoods! Cha-ching, Cha-ching, and out he births book two. Redwoods of the Deep Sea.
Is this making sense, yet? I guess being aspie myself and all, I am just a bit weary when yet another book or freelance article comes out about Aspergers and not much attention is paid to the source, the credentials, and/or the personhood of the person writing the book. I’m certain this happens in all subject areas that suddenly become a hot topic and therefore a hot commodity, but when the subject is about an actual neurological condition with actual people who have the condition and are struggling to make sense of the condition, and the whole sharks-coming-out-to-feed transpires, the experience is just somewhat that much more frightening and sad.
I am a bit over sensitive I suppose (must be my lack of empathy or inability to process emotions the typical way) about trusting any “experts” in general, as they belong to the same clam (clan…sorry Dr. Squidman did the editing) who couldn’t figure out for the last twenty-years that I even had Aspergers and who couldn’t figure out my son had it either.
If I read one more time about how a person with Aspergers can’t read non-verbal cues, I am going to scream, have a huge aspie meltdown and run out the door naked! Because you know people with Aspergers do that. Every full moon they run out the door naked and yell at the Trees. They do, really (Squidman, 2013).
After fifteen years of being married to me, my husband is a leading expert of what it is like being married to a woman with Aspergers. With his help and my brains (and his brains, too; he is pretty smart), we could tell you how the whole marriage to an Aspie person works. And there ain’t no little book or one page article that will do the trick! It’s tons of work, tons of compromise, and tons of love; just like any successful marriage. There isn’t any secret trick or secret way to make it better or to make it easier.
I don’t need to come with a handbook that explains to my mate how to deal with me. He needs to come with one. He’s a man! All men need to come with one, and a woman should write it.
Every person with Aspergers is different and uniquely unique. We can’t be clustered into one type of person with a few easy steps to make life easier to get along with us. HELLO! I am a person. I am not a type. I am not Aspergers. And I am not a male with Aspergers, either. There is a difference, you know!
Of course I respect people trying to truly help other people; but it’s all the profiteering off of the new trend “Aspergers” that’s got me a bit concerned. All of the sudden everyone is claiming to be an expert, when the “experts” don’t even know what Aspergers is yet, what causes it, or how to classify it. I mean there are articles claiming brain imagining can now detect Aspergers. It can? Last time I checked it couldn’t.
People are so hungry for knowledge, which is a great thing, but it’s a time to be cautious too and to take notice of the wolves and deceit. People will regurgitate facts to push a book. People will copy works to make a dime.
People will do what they have always done: exploit a people to make a profit.
And that’s what’s so ironic; here are all these NT (neurotypical people) rushing out to claim fame through trickery, lying, stealing, or at the minimum claiming they actually understand a complex neurological disorder they have never experienced, while it is the people with the character traits of honesty, sincerity, no game-playing, and loyalty whom are being dissected and analyzed and spread out for display.
Seems to me I need a book about how to deal with the profiteering thieves!
I am by no means saying everyone who writes about Aspergers ought to have Aspergers. Some of the leading experts have done brilliant work and assisted thousands of families; but I am saying be careful of what you read and what truths you believe out there. There are many clichés being recycled, many which are not true and don’t apply to the female with Aspergers experience.
I am not a child. I am highly intelligent. And my husband doesn’t need someone else telling him how we can better get along. I am right here. Ask me! I know.
And since I mentioned it. Here’s my quick article on being married to a man. I have been married for fifteen years to one, so this makes me an expert! Also, I have a Masters Degree in Squidology.
1) He will watch sports a lot. Take time before the games to express your needs. He may seem self-absorbed and fixated during the actual game, but don’t take it personally. He may get overly emotional, sometimes shouting obscenities or displaying nervous ticks. Give him a timer and let him know after an hour it is important for you to receive his undivided attention. Suggest five minutes to start and slowly increase the time. Then in return let him express a need you can fulfill. You can use a timer for that, too.
2) Toilets might be an issue. Keep the lid down when you can. But if the toilet is continually left up by the man then give him gentle reminders. When he does remember to shut the lid consider leaving a sticky note with a smiling face. If he still doesn’t remember, give him a break, he has short term bathroom memory condition. This will affect the toilet paper roll being refilled and he may forget how long he has been sitting on the toilet. Be patient. His brain is different from yours and obviously he needs time away. Ignore the smells; they eventually dissipate.
3) As a man gains weight his snoring will increase. Also, he might be prone to binge eating and drinking, especially during social functions. This is a natural response to being around other people of his gender. Keep a bag of ice in the fridge, so he is prepared for unexpected guests. Invest in earplugs. He can’t help the snoring. And with all the fast food establishments, he isn’t to blame for the gain in weight. Hold tight. Reflect the behavior you want to see. Eat healthy in front of him and cuddle him when he snores. If all else fails take breaks on the couch and let him stretch out in bed. Remember his body is different than yours.
4) Socializing can present problems. Try to recognize his behavior does not reflect you as a person. Sit down and have a talk in a safe and calming environment. Provide him with notecards about appropriate conversation in front of your friends. Roll play scenarios and give him examples of how to build you up and compliment you in front of guests. If he already does this, you are ahead of the game. Show him what is appropriate to wear. But don’t throw out that old shirt no matter how ugly it appears; this represents a connection to the past and provides a sense of security. Now that he is married he may seem miserable, but be reassured he is not. You are.
(This is a stereotypical generalization of a gender. Kind of like a stereotypical generalization of a group of individuals who have the same neurological condition.)